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Oklahoma City looks for teachers beyond state borders

Oklahoma City Public Schools recruiters are touring the Midwest this spring in search of teachers. The program is designed to combat a shortage of graduates in Oklahoma.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: March 23, 2013

Like many school districts in the state, Oklahoma City Public Schools is in need of teachers, so administrators are looking across state lines for help.

Officials are touring the Midwest this spring in search of teachers who'd like to come to Oklahoma.

It's the first outreach effort of its kind by the district.

“We need to do something different,” Superintendent Karl Springer said.

Pay cited in shortage

The teacher shortage comes down to pay and funding, said Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association.

Oklahoma ranks No. 48 nationally in teacher pay at $44,343. The national average is $55,623, according to the National Education Association.

The state ranks No. 45 in per-pupil spending at $6,859, according to the NEA. The national average is $8,062.

“Those are two pretty big things when you're coming out of college and you've got the whole United States to look at,” Hampton said.

It sends a message that Oklahoma doesn't value education, Hampton said.

“That doesn't really make you want to go into the teaching profession,” she said.

State law sets a minimum salary for teachers, but districts can pay more.

Pay goes up with education and experience.

The starting salary for a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree is $31,600.

Oklahoma City Public Schools pays a little more — $32,925.

The national average is $35,672, according to the National Education Association.

On the other end of the pay scale, long-term teachers have a cap. Statewide, teachers who have 25 years of experience and a bachelor's degree can make $42,325.

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